Seiichi Uchikawa, 41, a legendary hitter with 2,186 hits in his Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) career, has announced his second retirement.

“I will graduate as a professional baseball player at the end of the 2023 season,” Uchikawa announced on social media today. “After retiring from the NPB last year, I played for the Oita B-Rings for a year, and today I am announcing my second retirement.”

A first-round draft pick of the Yokohama BayStars 메이저사이트(now DeNA BayStars) in 2000, Uchikawa made his first-team debut in 2001 and won the Central League batting title in 2008 with a .378 batting average, the highest in NPB history for a right-handed hitter. After joining the SoftBank Husk as a free agent in 2011, Uchikawa won the Pacific League batting title with a .338 average in his first year with the team, becoming only the second player in NPB history to win a bi-league batting title.

Uchikawa spent 10 seasons (2011-2020) with SoftBank during the franchise’s golden era, where he formed a chemistry with fellow NPB player Lee Dae-ho, known as “Joseon’s No. 4 hitter,” and played together in the 2014-2015 seasons.

Lee Dae-ho (left) and Uchikawa played together at SoftBank / Photo by OSEN

After hitting .304 in the final three games of 2016, Uchikawa gradually declined and did not appear in a single game for the first team in 2020. He then moved to the Yakult Swallows in 2021, where he played two seasons before announcing his retirement from NPB in 2022. In his NPB career, Uchikawa batted .302 with 2186 hits, 196 home runs, 960 RBI, 41 doubles, and an OPS of 0.789 in 2,022 games.

After announcing his retirement from NPB, Uchikawa joined the Oita B-Rings of the Independent League to extend his active career for one more year. He shook off some rust in the independent league, batting .356 with two home runs, 35 RBIs, and an OPS of .956 in 40 games through Sept. 19.

Uchikawa said, “I played for about 33 years. I have some regrets about the end of my playing career, but at the same time, I feel a little relieved.” With two games left in his career, Uchikawa will retire after the season finale on September 24. “Uchikawa plans to continue giving back to the baseball world after his retirement, and he will also continue his local activities, including becoming an ambassador for sports for people with disabilities in Oita Prefecture (Uchikawa’s hometown),” Japanese media outlet Higashispo Web reported.

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